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Crete Travel - Zakros
Zakros - A visit to the Gorge of the Dead
Crete has been frequented by outdoor enthusiasts for many years; with cheap flights to the island available
year-round it’s as much loved for its wild and dramatic inland scenery and rocky seaside coves as it is for party
beaches and watersports. To the east of Heraklion lies the village of Zakros, heading a community of smaller
rural settlements in the island's quiet eastern region, but better known for the nearby Zakros Gorge, known as
the 'Gorge of the Dead'.
Less-visited than its more famous western cousin, the Samaria Gorge, Zakros Gorge is situated about 38
kilometres from Sitia. The natural landmark was given its funereal name after evidence of Minoan burial sites
were found in the caves, set in the steep gorge-side. Today, the area not only forms a stunning backdrop for
country hikes, but the last section of the E4 path, a Europe-wide trail beginning at the continent's western-
most point in Portugal.
The gorge hike begins around 4 kilometres from Ano Zakros (or Upper Zakros village) where there is a car
park and bus stop for visitors.
From here, it takes about 2 hours to walk down to Kato Zakros on the coast. The first portion of the trail follows
quite a sharp descent, but the majority of the walk from thereon cuts through the bottom of the riverbed.
Though free of water in the summer, you may need to negotiate stepping stones or indulge in some paddling
to get across during wintertime.
Despite its grisly name, there is plenty of vegetation and bird life found here and once you reach the sparkling
blue and white shores at Kato Zakros, you'll be rewarded with lunch at a waterfront taverna and the chance to
enjoy a pristine unspoiled beach.
These are not the only attractions of the lower village, however. The Palace of Zakros is found a short
distance from the shore, but closes in the mid-afternoon so make sure you allow enough time to walk there, if
coming from Ano Zakros. Discovered in the 1960s, it dates back to 1900BC and forms a vast, walkable ruin of
numerous rooms, corridors and courtyards. A huge amount of Minoan treasures were unearthed here, now
viewed in the museums of Sitia and Heraklion.
Zakros and its surrounding sights manage to combine the key attractions of this sun-blessed Greek Isle in one
place: rugged, natural beauty, cultural heritage and a beautiful beach to end your journey.
Whether you're visiting as part of a longer tour or just looking for a sample of what Crete has to offer, it's a
difficult spot to surpass.